Tag Archives: family

Flight 189 to Winnipeg has crashed.

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Can you for even one moment imagine hearing those words on the radio when you have just left your husband at the airport. He is taking a flight to Winnipeg. On the morning of June 26, 1978 my mother heard those words.

I was minding my own business working at my summer job in an office. I was thinking about moving on to university for my first year. I was excited and concerned. I was surprised when I was told I had a personal call. I didn’t receive personal calls as a rule. I picked up the phone, identified myself and waited for a response. My mother’s voice said “I guess you’ve heard about the plane crash at Toronto International.” I replied that I had but I assumed my father’s plane had missed it. Another ominous pause and my mother’s response was “no he was in it.”

Now you have to understand I was all of 19 years old. I reacted to most things emotionally. This was no exception I raced out of the room tears streaming from my eyes only to catch a glimpse of my face in a mirror. The only thought that entered my mind was that my father would be appalled. I quickly splashed cold water on my face and returned to my office. Without breaking my step I quickly said that my father had been in a plane crash and I was leaving. I have a dim recollection of a great many stunned faces not moving. I drove home. I have absolutely no recollection of the drive. Not stop signs, not stop lights and certainly no other cars. When I got home my sister and brother were already there. My sister re-parked my car.

And that’s when I heard what had happened. My mother worked in an accounting firm part time. My father worked for a large International Company that often had him flying out of town. My mother would drop him off at the airport and then take the subway into her job. She had done it a 100 times. Today seemed no different.   As she was working at her desk a fellow employee walked by commenting about a plane crash. He saw the look on my mother’s face and suggested they listen to the radio for more information.   The required information was not long in coming. Flight 189 to Winnipeg has crashed.

The strength of will it took for my mother to calmly state she was leaving, call her son, make her way to the subway station and spend almost an hour out of touch and waiting is incredible. My brother was at home as he was working a night shift, she explained the situation and requested he pick her up at the subway station. When the two of them were in the car with the radio on it was announced that there were two dead.

My sister was called at her work. They had already begun looking for my father. When a crisis of this magnitude hits, the media does their best to get information, the authorities protecting the victims do their best to keep things under wrap until the families can be notified. It’s tough when you have that many victims.  The volume of victims needing hospitals meant that several were involved. They waited. They called hospitals. My father’s company called hospitals and the airline. Eventually he was found. He was alive. Then they called me.

I don’t know why I chose to share this with you all. My father has been gone for 8 years.   My mother has been gone for three. My mother’s birthday was just a few weeks ago and my father’s birthday is just a few weeks away. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic. My father survived a plane crash but he did have a broken back. He said that everyone knew what was about to happen and as he’d flown enough he knew what to do and he made sure the people around him did as well. He had a similar crash in World War II. As he said he was younger and got out quicker.

My parents lived through this with grace and integrity. My mother moved in with my sister to be closer to my father while he was in hospital.   Her words “I need to be closer to my husband.” They loved each other, plain and simple. I admired that, I still do.

I learned a great deal that day: I am stronger than I think I am, our emergency responders are the best! and ordinary people with rise to the occasion when needed. I also recognized that emotions can paralyze you but they can be controlled. I have great role models to live up to, even now.



An excerpt from Wikipedia:


Air Canada Flight 189 was an Air Canada flight from Ottawa to Vancouver via Toronto and Winnipeg. On June 26, 1978 it crashed on take-off in Toronto killing two passengers.

During take-off at 8:15 a.m. one of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32‘s tires burst and partially disintegrated, firing chunks of rubber into the landing gear mechanism. This set off an “unsafe gear” warning, prompting the pilot to abort the take-off.  The aircraft, however, was already two thirds along the length of runway 23L and travelling at 154 knots (285 km/h). It could not stop before the end of the runway, and plunged off the edge of an embankment still travelling at 60 knots (110 km/h), eventually coming to a rest in the Etobicoke Creek ravine.  The plane broke in three pieces, but despite its full load of fuel did not catch fire.  The accident was visible from Highway 401, which runs alongside the south side of the airport.

The plane was destroyed and two passengers were killed.

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100 Miles

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Reading another’s blog about his childhood made me nostalgic for my own. Here is another glimpse back to those halcyon days.

My parents and I once took a month long vacation took while we were living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.  I was probably 9 or 10. We packed the car and started out okay until we hit a particular section of highway that is 100 miles long with nothing but trees the entire way. It was a two lane highway so some passing of vehicles was required.  It was also popular with trailers which of course drive slower then most cars.  We had successfully passed several of these vehicles when we encountered a problem just as we came alongside one of these trailers. No acceleration. Fortunately my father had just enough power to finish passing and pull over on to the shoulder. A kind soul passing by stopped and between him and my father they determined that the accelerator cable had broken.  This stranger promised to stop at the next town and send back a tow truck.   We made ourselves comfortable.  Soon another stranger going in the opposite direction stopped to say that there was no tow truck so he would stop at the previous town and try to send one back from there. Eventually the same news came back: no tow truck available. Never one to admit defeat my father was able to rig up a solution.  A trusty coat hanger attached to the accelerator was threaded under the hood of the car to the driver’s side window became a makeshift solution.  My father wrapped socks around the coat hanger and pulled on it to accelerate.  Sounds good, with a few caveats.  It was hilly terrain so the car had to go at least 100 mph downhill to get up the next hell.  My mother sat close to my father so she could jam the gear shift into neutral if necessary.  It was a very long run to the next town I must say. When we did finally make it, the local mechanic was amazed by the ingenuity but didn’t have a replacement cable.  He did however rig the coat hanger through the floor board so it was much easier the next day.  It was replaced later.

Father Dearest

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My Father was a man who guided us and who loved us.  He  was our dad, our mentor, and our friend. A man who was not so bad for an old guy!


Lectures my father gave …

My father always has been and always will be considered a man of honour, integrity and stature.  He was also human.  He was a dad and subject to all the idiosyncrasies of that idyllic state.  In simplest terms, he ain’t perfect.  Of course growing up I just assumed he was perfect.  Aren’t all fathers?  We used to tease my Dad about his lectures.  You know all the usual ones that fathers give their children – drive from point a to point b, no ‘parking’,  look both ways before you date.  As his children we would roll our eyes and say “lecture 37” or “lecture 210”.  And we would all laugh.  But we didn’t disobey, or at least not openly.  My Father laid down the law in our family. Of course laws were meant to be broken, or at least bent a little.  I read that somewhere.

Father’s are people too!

Perhaps the first time I realized my father was human was the time I cut my finger.  It was not a bad cut, really, but it bled a lot.  By the time I made it to my father (my mother was out of the house) it looked as if I had amputated the finger, and done a really bad job of it.  It was not a pretty sight!  Dad didn’t panic, he just looked scared.  I didn’t appreciate how it looked at the time, I was used to it, I was a kid. He took my hand and placed it under the kitchen tap.  Once the blood was gone, he couldn’t find the cut.  I thought everything was status quo, but he would not let me go out and play again.  I had to wait for my mother to come home.  I was probably ten years old.

Then there was the time I wanted to go horseback riding with a friend.  I had the money and a ride.  It was just a matter of form to ask permission. My mother always said yes.  Mom wasn’t home.  Dad said no. No reason either.  It wasn’t until many years later that I understood these two episodes.  My father could not bear to face my mother if anything had happened to me.  I guess it is just a dad thing.

The dog made me do it

My father was a distinguished looking man but appearances can be deceiving. Take the yearly trial of showing a beautiful but willful dog how to use the dog door. My father had installed a ‘dog door’ in the screen door off the kitchen to make it easier for Samantha (a brindle boxer) to come in and out at her leisure.  In theory, as in practice, it was a wonderful idea. Of course, it was not used in the winter time. It would mean leaving the glass door open and that would be too cold. So every spring Samantha was once again offered the opportunity to use her door.  Here comes the good part.  I don’t know if she really did have a fear about using the door for the first time every year or she just enjoyed the image of my very distinguished father on his hands and knees crawling through that door, several times. I must admit my mother and I always made sure we were nearby. I wonder why I never took a picture?


Thanks dad, we love you.


One step at a time …


I wanted my first full post of the year 2015 to be insightful and germane.  I wanted to connect with people with words that were touching and provoking.  Here I am telling you all the things I was going to do.  And yet…

We have just finished celebrating Christmas and New Year’s.  There was, I am sure, frivolity and good natured rabble rousing!  But here’s the thing: Christmas is a sad time for me.  For me the event has always been a celebration of family.  Good food, good friends, good times.  Seven years ago I lost my father.  2 ½ years ago I lost my mother.  They were part of Christmas and now they’re gone.  Also in 2014 I lost my feline companion of 16 years.  Her brother departed five years before that.  So you can see I spend way too much time at Christmas thinking about who I have lost.  I am writing this on January 3 for posting on January 4.  On January 3, 2007 I received a phone call.  My father was gone.

Now thinking about my father I know exactly what he would say about all this maudlin reminiscing.  He would not approve!  My mother is looking over my other shoulder going “Tsk, tsk, tsk!  We raised you better than that!”  Honestly I swear my parents are sitting on my shoulders and the weight is sometimes overwhelming!

I have also been thinking about the day I was born.  I may have attended the event but I have no first-hand recollection of it.  I can only recount it because my mother told me the story so many times.  She usually did so after I had been caught doing something incredibly stupid because I was always in such a hurry.  She used to say that I was born in a hurry and that her actual labour only lasted 20 minutes!  She maintained that if the doctor delivering me had been standing a little to one side I would have been splattered against the far wall.  Who knew?

I guess with the beginning of the new year we look back to the past before moving on.  It is vitally important that we never forget our past, good or bad.  I don’t want to forget the pain of losing those I loved.  I don’t want to forget the anguish, the uncertainty or the humiliation of past events.  I would be afraid that if I lost the bad I would also lose the good.  I want to remember the love of family and friends.  I want to remember my kitten purring in my ear as I rubbed her belly.  She may be gone but her memory remains like a lifeboat in time.  I want to remember the first time I opened a book that had been published with my words in it.  I want to remember that first comment on my first blog post.  It was an incredible feeling!

As we go forward in life there are going to be good times and bad times.  There will be incredible highs and incredible lows and all of it will contribute to the amazing people that we are, or could be.  Embrace the less than stellar times and find something positive out of it.  Never take for granted the wondrous times and try to pay it forward.  This beautiful world we are inhabiting could be a paradise for everyone.  Let’s make that our goal. One step at a time my friends, one step at a time.


Full disclosure



The idea of full disclosure is normally a good thing.  However, I do not want full disclosure on everything.  I really don’t.  Many years ago I was reading an article on what was in a sausage.  I stopped.  I do not want to know what is in a sausage.  I love sausages.

I do want to know what the politicians are doing with public funds.  I want to know if a politician’s extracurricular activities will impinge on the job he or she was hired to do.  I do not want to know what his sexual preferences are.  If it is between two consenting adults then it does not matter to the rest of us.  Or it shouldn’t.  The same goes for the celebrity types.  It’s none of my business, please don’t make it so.

Private should mean just that:  private.  This thirst so many people have for the ‘dirt’ on others is unseemly.  I find it demeaning to the ‘looker’ and the ‘lookee’.  But I fear I am in the minority.  Who am I to judge another’s form of entertainment.  It is a multibillion dollar business.

One of the things the media loves to say is that “the public has a right to know”.  Yes, they do.  Mostly.  The public has rights.  But an individual also has rights.  I am horrified when I see an accident where there are deaths.  The media scrambles to find out the names of the people that have died.  They don’t care if the family has been notified, they just want the scoop.  That is wrong!

Many years ago my father was in a plane crash.  He broke his back but he survived.  Once he was out of the hospital the media descended on my family.  There were aggressive strangers calling and asking questions.  There was a media truck that was parked outside our home way too often.  My mother and I, on more than one occasion, had to sit where we could see the house and wait for the truck to leave.  Then we would race home, hide the car in the garage and run inside.  Why?

I was a teenager I should not have had to walk around checking out strangers over my shoulder.  They wanted to know how I felt.  You want to know how I felt?  I felt violated!  I was a young adult and I was dealing with the trauma of what my father was going through.  I was having to watch every word I said. Idiot reporters were quite happy to twist anything I said to make it sound more salacious!  With everything that was going on in the world and they wanted to harass my family?  I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand now. I hated the media!

I believe the media has a role in our world.  I think for the most part they are doing a good job.  But full disclosure comes with huge responsibilities.  The media, I am sure, is aware of that but they act as if it’s not their problem.  That does not make sense to me.

My parents used to have a boat moored a few hours from our home.  They would go up there on the weekends and for vacations.  One weekend there was a tornado.  I was concerned but I believed the severest weather would miss them.  So you can imagine my concern when I turn on the TV only to discover they are reporting the path of the tornado to be directly on top of my parents!

Because of the severe weather I knew I would not be able to call my parents.  So I waited.  I knew they would call me as soon as they were able.  It was almost 2 days.  They were fine.  The weather had been rough but the tornado had not touched down anywhere near them.  The report was wrong!  These  @#$%^  media types had published information that was untrue!  I am quite sure I am not the only one that was in a state of panic because of that report.  I never heard an apology, but then one rarely does from the media.  They wanted their scoop and didn’t care if the information was wrong or who they hurt.  Can you appreciate now why I’m not a fan of the media?

Full disclosure is an ideal and it’s a good one.  Unfortunately like so many things in life the application of that ideal is anything but.  With full disclosure comes full responsibility.  I don’t think most of us are capable of taking on that kind responsibility.  I know I’m not, are you?

What are friends for?


When I was originally diagnosed my first thought was that I was too busy, no time for this nonsense.  My second thought was about telling my parents.  I will never forget the look on my father’s face as I presented him with the news.  He was devastated.  Here was something he, as my father, could not fix. Both of my parents are gone now but they helped to set the foundation for how I deal with this disease. It was and is difficult, but my family is incredible.  They do not hover but will come when I need them, they offer support without stifling me.  They allow me to make my mistakes. They allow me to live.  I will be forever grateful that I am surrounded by such wonderful people.  As for my friends?  Once again I am blessed.

In the early stages of this disease my supposed friends scattered, never to be heard from again.  The friends I have now are true friends.  One woman in particular.   She lets me cry when I need to, rant when I need to and will share a bottle of wine when necessary, or even just wanted.  She cared for my cats when I was forced to spend three months in hospital.  She didn’t just feed them and clean their litter, she got down on the floor and played with them. And she is allergic to cats!  When Ally needed comforting she was there.  When Quinn needed to have his belly rubbed (it’s a boy thing) she was there.  She has seen me at my worst and she still likes me!  She is my friend and I love her.

Friendship is so important.  I know that there are a great many people out there I could call on and they would come.  I have a friend, a man, and he has told me several times that I am to call if I need him.   He lives an hour away but I know he would come.  My friends at the office will help me if I contact them even though I have been gone for more than 12 years!.  I trust them implicitly.  It is a wonderful feeling.

I am the person I am today because of my family and my friend and I like who I have become. The journey that I am on is not entirely of my making.  However, how I deal with my lot in life is my choice, my decision. I choose to enjoy, to smile, to relish my life. I will not give in or give up. I will give this life a run for it’s money! Ye-haw!!


Semper Fidelis

A few days ago I opened my blog to a wonderful surprise.  I had been nominated for an award!  In the past I’ve been nominated a few times and trust me I am truly honoured that anyone would think my work was worthy of an award but the requirements that come with them are, I’m afraid, more than I can handle.  This person would not accept that.  He felt that regardless of my inabilities to fulfill the requirements I should still accept the award and forget the rest.  This blogger is someone I have followed for a while and I thoroughly enjoy what he has to say.  He puts a smile on my face and sometimes makes me think a little harder about things.   Deodatta Shenai-Khatkhate is his name and   http://dshenai.wordpress.com   is his blog.  The award is called Semper Fidelis Award and it is to “highlight outstanding bloggers who are excellent examples of trust, faithfulness and loyalty”.  These are heady words and I am honored by the nomination.


It has also made me think about this community of bloggers, this family of individuals that I have joined.  People whose blogs I read on a regular basis are insightful, inspiring and uplifting.  My day doesn’t start until I spend an hour reading their words.  These people are from all walks of life and from many different countries, different cultures.  And yet we are a family.  In the truest sense of that word we support each other and we rail together at injustices.  We understand issues and work through our confusion together.


To say that I am thrilled that someone would even consider putting my name forward for this award is an understatement.  Deo has always said the nicest things in his comments on my posts even when I was unsure of myself and my words.  And he isn’t the only one.  I started blogging because I needed to do something to expel the energy that was flowing from my fingertips.  My brother and sister suggested I start expanding my readership through a blog.  I thought I would do it for a few months, half a dozen people would read it and then I would give it up.  I can no longer imagine doing that.  I can’t imagine not spending time reading about your worlds through your words.  I learn, I commiserate, I laugh, I cry.  My world has expanded and I’m a much better person since having met all of you.  Thank you Deo and thank you to all of you who read my blog.  The world is ours to explore and we will do it together.


One more thing, visit Deo at http://dshenai.wordpress.com  and see for yourself just how wonderful a blog he writes!

Childhood memories

I have a very strong memory of being a child falling asleep in the back seat of my parent’ s car.  My father would gently pick me up and I would be half asleep as he carried me into my bed.  I remember feeling safe, protected, loved.  This is a wonderful memory.  Unfortunately not every child out there has had the same experience in their childhood.

I was born in the usual manner.  I had a father, a mother, a brother, and a sister.  At that time that was all I had.  I was also naked and defenseless. The others provided for my meager needs. I might add that I also had a pair of lungs on me even then that could shatter plastic. My mother tells a story about when I first came home from the hospital.  I was laying on a bed somewhere, in our house, and my brother came into the room.  He had taken off as I was arriving because I was a ‘girl’!!!! Yech!  My mother maintained that he had a bit of an attitude about his new sister. He came in the room and pointed a finger aggressively at me.  Being a red-head, a woman in training and basically just as loaded with attitude as my big brother, I grabbed the finger and held on.  He has been my favorite big brother ever since.  And I have always been his favorite red-headed sister.  Our sister is a brunette.

When I think back on my childhood, certain incidents stand out.  It is also true that remembering through the luxury of time does not always make for the most accurate of recollections. However, there are those memories that are indelibly etched in the mind and no matter how hard you try, they just will not go away.  Such is the recollection of running away from home.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a red-head.  As is my brother , my sister escaped our plight by having hair the colour of dark mahogany. All of us are independent, opinionated (I mean that in the nicest possible way), and we all enjoy life.  Of course, that was not always the way.  I don’t remember all the arguments I had with my mother.  I probably forgot them a few minutes after I was punished.  But I do remember one incident when I tried to run away from home.  I was probably yelling and saying awful things and then I did what I thought would hurt my mother the most: I threaten to run away from home.  Now, one would have thought that the threat alone would have been enough to bring my mother to her knees, begging me to stay and that she would give me anything not to leave. Well, you don’t know my mother.  She calmly said “ok” and helped me pack!  I think the farthest I got was the end of the driveway.  It hadn’t worked out the way I had planned. I was going to join a circus (it was unimportant that there wasn’t one close) and my mother would spend the rest of her life regretting driving me away.  She would pine for my presence.  She would……well you get the picture.  Instead I hung my head and went back.  My mother gave me a hug and probably a glass of milk and a cookie.  It’s a mom thing.   Wonderful childhood memories.